EAGLE ROCK (CBSLA.com) — Fliers offering $40 worth of free medical-grade marijuana were reportedly passed out in Eagle Rock to try and draw residents to vote in the local election.
Was the free pot an incentive to get a larger turnout? Politics ranked “high” on resident’s list of priorities. Nearly 10 times as many voters – 792 residents – turned out to the polls during the recent Neighborhood Council elections than last year.
“It’s a little weird that people can’t come out and vote on their own. I see that as a problem, as a social symptom,” Eagle Rock resident Joerael Elliott said.
Many residents told CBS2′s Juan Fernandez they didn’t think enticing voters with perks was right.
“You can’t pay your way like that, that’s not cool,” resident Danielle Sargent said.
No one is claiming responsibility for the flier.
The fliers asked citizens to support the Progress and Collaboration Slate, which ran against the neighborhood council’s opposition to pot dispensaries.
The council had tried to ban pot dispensaries but residents collected enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, the Eagle Rock Patch reported.
L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the district, has submitted the flier to the L.A. City Attorney’s Office to see if any legal action can be taken. He believes the record voter turnout had nothing to do with the pot giveaway and was instead motivated by residents trying to take control of their community.
While some argue the pot offer drove voter turnout, it didn’t lead to victory. A candidate from the Eagle Rock Neighbors Slate was elected president. Only two of the eight Progress candidates won – for the positions of civic director and sub-district 1 director.
The battle continues, however. Progress candidate Mark Smith has since filed a formal complaint challenging the election results.
“Our opponents were just obsessed with the marijuana thing, because all of us, on the slate I was on, are for safe access, but we’re not for 30 dispensaries in the neighborhood,” Smith said.
Smith said his opponents played dirty, using scare tactics to sway the vote.
“They called the slate that I was on and said we were a criminal syndicate, organized crime…my favorite one was when they said we were going to bring bordellos and cocaine to Eagle Rock,” Smith said.